Monday, May 10, 2010

Epilogue To A Great Day...

The smoke had barely settled from the Mac Pac attempt at establishing a new Guiness Record Book number for the BMW motorcycle category when I started hearing snippets from the street. Some of these snippets related to details that had been left out of my last blog episode. While many of snake-eyed readers are more than happy to attribute this to bad journalism, the truth is that I have been working against a number of challenges lately. The first of these regards my regular writing schedule, which has intensified by 100 percent (thank God). I went from being a near-unemployed bastard to being a bastard with 5 to 7 writing assignments each week. (I prefer things this way.)

But I’m only good for a limited amount of text each day and I’ve had a lot less time to go through things. Plus the arthritis that has plagued me like a one of my previous marriages has spread to my back and other places. This simply wears me out. Yet I was compelled to fill in the blanks from my previous story on this record-breaking event. I really wanted to elaborate more on the “behind the scenes” activities of my colleagues, and to run some of the pictures of these guys.

Above -- Todd Trombore (left) laughs at Brian Curry's suggestion to ask everyone to move their motorcycle two feet to the left. Curry dropped a quarter and he wanted it back. Trombore did not realize that Curry was serious. (Brian Curry is usually what someone means when they say "Mac Pac leadership.") Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

As previously reported, Mac Pac leadership had considered going after this record nine months ago, but decided to just have breakfast instead. Then Todd Trombore said, “I think we can do this.” (Mac Pac leadership is determined by having five guys and four chairs in a room in which music is playing. When the music stops, each weasel scrambles for a seat. The person left standing is the “leadership.”)

(Above) There wasn't much of a crowd around 8:30am. (From left) Gordon Till, Dot Ellenberg, Jay Scales, Laura Hirth, Dave Case (extended arms), and Rich Cavaliere. Most of the machines in this picture are traditional "R" bikes, owned by people who do not believe in proper cooling systems, such as those of the mechanically sophisticated "K" bike. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

Trombore is the epitome of the BMW motorcycle preservationist. His name is well-known among serious BMW collectors and the Delaware Valley Riders, who revere antique machines of all marques. With more than 34 bikes in his collection — many of which are painstakingly restored to museum-quality perfection — he keeps company with legendary BMW riders like Karl Duffner and personally supports an annual riding program designed to showcase BMW toasters “that were designed to be ridden, not hidden.”

(Above) This is the priceless "Velocette" owned by Dave Crank, who worked registration. Note the toe and heel shifter. I first saw this machine two years ago, when Crank rode it on one of Todd's rides. Two hours into that trip, we found Crank on the side of the road, crying piteously. He hadn't read that the ride would be four hours long, and the splitting-maul of a seat was working its magic on his ass. The bike was ineligible for the Guiness Record-Breaking event. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

Trombore has the kind of personality that puts everything into an easy perspective. No challenge is too great... No issue is too ghastly to defy resolution. He is one of those guys who can do anything (and is very annoying in the extreme to those of us who can’t.) In this case, he was faced with creating a mechanism for getting everyone all together and organizing the event, including a ride-route that not only met the Guiness Book Record requirements, but that would also treat participants to a real taste of the Pennsylvania countryside.

(Above) There is nothing like spying BMW royalty in the crowd. Moto Edde Mendes looks for trick questions on his registration card. Mendes is the gentleman who rode an unmodified K75 from Morocco down to the Sahara, up to the Silk Route through Turkey, across the 'Stans' into Russia, and across the US east to Philly. In all, 39,000 miles in 11 months -- without a film crew or support team. He is a member of the Mac Pac. Photo by Wayne Wodruff.

“We need to set up a route where the riders need only hang together in tight formation for two miles,” said Trombore, staring off at the horizon, like Lincoln thinking of the Emancipation Proclamation.“Then they can spread out and take in the beautiful countryside that surrounds this place. I have a simple route in mind... Only three left turns and 128 rights.”

I rolled my eyes at Dave Case.

Trombore is our resident authority on twisty, shaded, Amish farm roads. I have been honored to be invited on two of his great antique runs in the past.. And he does pick some of the most beautiful roads I have ever been on... Yet it is not uncommon for these roads to disappear down single tracks marked with cattle skulls and pentagrams, and end at a knotted rope, which the rider must climb with the motorcycle strapped to his back.

(Above) Videographer interviews Todd Trombore (middle) and Bob Jones, the CEO of Montgomeryville Cycle Center. Photo By Wayne Woodruff

Montgomeryville Cycle Center is tantalizing close to Rt. 309, in Hatfield, Pa, but its driveway is actually on a one-way access road that peels to right of the highway, just as the sign for the dealership heaves into plain view. Initially, it looked as if all of our riders would have had to spill out onto the access road to make an immediate left, and then a right onto a tight, one-lane country road. The local police department commiserated with Todd on this grim bit of reality, and then offered to shut down the access road, and both lanes of Rt. 309 fot the 13 minutes it would take for 246 bikes to exit the lot. Suddenly, it became very easy to set up the parade formation, herd the bikes out onto the pavement, and videotape them from several vantage points.

(Above) The 60-second to roll-out signal has been given, and 246 BMWs started in unison. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

If Dave Case, the Mac Pac member responsible for coming up with the bike parking scheme for the event, should ever opt for a change in careers, he could teach a correspondence course on air traffic control. Case packed those bikes in tighter than a clams ass (and that’s waterproof). Yet he was assisted by a team of Mac Pac members whose dedication to service would shame the commitment of a Kamikazi pilot. This addendum will attempt to do justice to Dave Case and his crew.

The Crack Volunteer Parking Team was...

Mark Barr
Kimi Bush
Rick Cavaliere
John Clause
Joe Dille
Charles Hehl
Roddy Irwin
Corey Lyba
Linda Sorensen
Rick Sorensen
Chelcie, Fiancé of Ryan Sorensen
Ryan Sorensen
Jim Sterling
Frank Tomé

“The day started out as humid as a greenhouse, but cool enough to move around,” said Case. “Yet the sun beating down on all that hot German steel and black asphalt quickly turned the parking lot into an oven. My first thought was 246 kickstands were going start to punch holes in the blacktop. I had a vision of setting another record... The number of bikes that could go over like dominoes. Fortunately, we didn’t have to deal with that.”

Case likened the arriving bikes to popcorn in as microwave. “At first the kernels pop slowly, almost at random,” said Case. “Then they pop faster. That’s how the bikes arrived. By ones and two’s, and then in groups of ten or twelve, as they came together on the road. I was confident the crew had it covered. At one point though, I heard a pride of Beemers arrive and found everyone locked in conversation over a great looking bike So I just yelled, ‘Incoming,’ and that became the action word of the day.” (A group of BMW motorcycles and lions is referred to as a “pride.”)

(Above) Bill Dudley of New Jersey shows Mac Pac members Corey Lyba, Kimi Bush, and Dave Millhouse the point of impact for slow moving pedestrians. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

Case and his volunteers had formulated a number of contingency plans for another crisis: mechanical failure. “Some of these bikes were 50 years old,” said Case. “Our record-breaking attempt was two phase. One was to get them together. The second was to ride in a parade formation for two miles. Every one of them had to start and ride out of here to qualify.”

(Above) The crack registration team (from left) Patti Minner, Dave Crank, Gordon Till, and Jack Riepe. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

Not surprisingly, they all did. But one went down towards the back of the line. It was a classic parking lot drop with no damage to the rider nor the machine. Two of Case’s crew rushed to upright the bike, while others paused the remaining cycles around it. (The rider of the dropped rig simply remounted, restarted, and went. The delay was less than 30 seconds.) Case and crew were among the last riders to exit the lot.

“It was like watching the plug get pulled out of a giant tub,” said Corey Lyba. “There was a swirl of motorcycles back by the exit, and then the rest all followed smoothly.”

The ride was to be the subject of at least three video teams. One was on a highway overpass, less than a mile from the start. Cameras from this vantage point caught the bikes coming and going. Joe Dille (pronounced Dilly), and his son Matt, got some incredible ride footage at ground zero -- from the sidecar of vintage BMW. Moving among the riders, Team Dille caught the line undulating along Route 309 at speed.

(Above) Author Jack Riepe (in blue Sturgis BMW shirt) comments to Gordon Till, "There is nothing more penetrating than a fart from a senior citizen." Till responds by taking the most basic of precautions, but cannot help glancing at the most likely source. Rogers George is staring intently at Riepe's water bottle, trying to levitate it. Photo by Wayne Woodruff.

Clyde Jacobs and I filled in that 30-second gap prompted by the dropped bike. I followed the flashing police lights through two easy curves, marveling at the expressions on the faces of waiting cage drivers, who certainly weren’t expecting a show of this magnitude. As I explained in my previous piece, the staggering majority of BMW riders do not do the group thing. I was immediately behind a guy on a yellow bike who was under the impression the speed limit was 35mph. This rider felt that a 25-bike-length gap was the bare minimum space between his machine and the motorcycle in front of him. Now while the police from various townships closed the feeder lanes as we approached, some did not feel the need to remain until we all passed by. I saw a line of cars waiting to get on the road sizing up the gap created by the guy in front of me.

I hit my flashers, waved to Clyde, and went around this gent bringing Fireballs up to the red line in 3rd gear. Seven other bikes followed me. And that was it. The event was over for me shortly thereafter, and passed into history — perhaps. The group thing is fun in moderation. I recommend riding on groups of two and three, unless you are with 246 BMWs.

©copyright Jack Riepe 2010
AKA The Lindbergh Baby
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain — PS (With A Shrug)


Woody said...


The words are great, but you gotta find a better photographer.

A fine documentary of the behind-the-scenes.

Wayne Woodruff
CEO, Helen Keller School of Photography
"The lens goes towards the subject"

RichardM said...

"Pride" - group of BMW motorcycles. I'll need to remember that one.

Nice write up. Makes me wish I was there.

Gary said...

I wish I would have known about this event........I could have brought my buddy Ken Bruce along...... and maybe a few New Yorkers and a rider from DC! ;-)
......but we had some sailing to do!

Gary Christman

cpa3485 said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your rendition of the event. From my experience at the charity toy run last December I can appreciate the organization needed for the line up and the coordination needed with local police for traffic controls. It takes a lot of work, but the reward is fantastic.
I hope someday to get a copy of the guinness book, find your record and be able to say, "Hey, I know one of those guys!"
Glad the work situation is better for you. Being self employed sure can be interesting at times.
Here's hoping that the arthritis doesn't hold you back too much.

redlegsrides said...

A very nice followup Mr Riepe.

I too am the proud owner of a Sturgis BMW T-shirt. I had to buy an R1150RT to get it but hey....

A "pride" of Beemer riders, I like that. I am so looking forward to the videos.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Woody:

Thanks for the pictures! They added a lot to the endless text and allowed me to give more credit where that credit was due. Just this morning, I found a few more shots from Rick Sorensen asnd will have to fit thise in too.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Rich:

You would have had a good time. Somehow, I suspect this will be a recurrent theme in BMW circles. And think about it... What i more natural than a "Pride of BMWs?"

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Gary Christman:

You and Ken, and the other bums, were sorely missed. Next time...

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

As I have said so many times, the BMW riding community is unlike others in many respects. They're as tight as anything in a group briefly, but when it comes to riding, three is a big number.

I didn't understand that five years ago... But I understand it now.

There was a great deal of organizational juggling at this event, but Todd Trombore and Dave Case made it look easy. I just had to show up!

But I understand what you mean... When it all comes together... It feels great.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

The videos are coming... This day was a lot of fun, if only to see all these guys in one place. The number was actually very small... But large enough for us, and large enough to break a record.

Then again, it raises the issue, "How many Beemers are in a pride?"

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

BMW-Dick said...

Thanks for posting Wayne's excellent photos. It's amazing what you can do when your hands don't shake, you have the right equipment, and you know how to use it -- guess that's true of lots of things. I'm still smiling thinking about the fun we had on that Ride.

Conchscooter said...

I think writing only two essays to pat yourself on the back is not enough. I look forward to several more this summer ending up with one final loud fart about how you have lost the record to a bunch of geeks from indiana or kansas or someplace else in fly over country.
By the way a senior citizen phart is as nothing compared to that of a malnourished Labrador. Try blaming your wife for that one. She'll do more than delicately cover her nose.

Unknown said...

Jack "r":

It was blissfully peaceful, while it lasted. Guess who is back ?

Wet Coast Scootin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conchscooter (Key West Ballast):

No where in the last three pieces did I pat myself on the back... All I wanted to do, and did, was recount the pure joy of running with the unicorns. The lion and the unicorn are both represented in a coat of arms that marks the birthplace of your tachless econo-cycle...

But you choose to dwell on the anal bellow, mentioned as an aside in my piece. I didn't realize that this passes for cultural currency in Florida's tropics.

Good day to you sir.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Bobskoot:

He apparently replaced the blown fuse with a penny, or something, and got the internet working again. Oh well...

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

redlegsrides said...


Todd Trumbore...Todd Trumbore, now where had I seen that name before? Then I realized he was the author of an article in the most recent edition of the BMWMOA Owner News! He wrote a great account of his attending the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) in Oley, PA, and riding to it on a beautiful 1954 R68 owned by another legendary name in Beemer circles: Karl Duffner!

Good writing skills, a restorer of vintage motorcycles, a passionate wrench, a sidecar owner/rider and he served his country as a Marine. Quite the man!

Someday I'll ride over in your neck of the woods, I expect an introduction to Todd Trumbore during that time! Along with all the other colorful characters of the Mac-Pac of course!


Redleg's Rides

redlegsrides said...

I am not sure this will work for non-members but here's a link to the digital version of the BMWMOA Owner News where Todd Trumbore's article is published. (Page 53)

A Vintage Thrill and a Heartfelt Honor

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Jack, I loved this post so much! Glad to hear that you are gainfully employed--in spite of your condition you get more work done than I can on my best days! I admire that.

Can't wait to catch up on the first installment of this tale. Just wanted you to know the vicarious pleasure I received from this. You're a master story teller!

your pal, Sharon

Todd Trumbore said...

It is very hard to choose which article I enjoyed the most. They both had me rolling on the floor and are some of your best examples to date. You are in rare form. I was also touched by the comments of some of your readers.

Thanks again for being such a big part of this special day. The event would not have been the same without your presence.

Semper Fi,
Todd Trumbore

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

That is the same Todd Trombore He is a one-of-a kind individual and I m always honored to be invited on one of his rides. Todd always sees the future in terms of potential, and the past as a fresh lesson to be learned. this constantly upbeat attitude aggravates the shit out of me.

Thank you for your kind note. You always have something pleasant to say, unlike some human plagues from Key West.

Fondest Regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Thank you for your encouraging note... I am now in Chicago. Check your e-mail.

Fondest Regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Todd:

Thank you for putting the entire event together, Todd. I was glad to do whatever I could.

Fondest Regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jonesy said...

Great piece! As a participant in the Cape Girardeau event I can only say its all good if it promotes BMW's and motorcycling. Here's to bigger and better parades in the future.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Jonesy:

First of all, thanking for taking the time to read my blog and for leaving a comment. Your kind note made my day.

Secondly, if you find yourself passing through this neck of the woods, please drop me a line. I'd love to introduce you to the guys and stake you to dinner.

And finally, your note hit the nail on the head. It's all good if it advances the marque.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Radu Prisacaru said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Opining, Ihor said...

Good job and excellent reportage John.

The number of BMW's in a Pride is one(especially if it is yourself) or more. Infinity is the upper limit of the group designation.

Perhaps your next ADK trip will co-incide with one of my own?

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